Mets Blogger Round Table: Our Favorite Hometown Mets
With the Mets signing Todd Frazier, the organization has yet again went out and brought home a local boy to play for the hometown team. It is something we have seen from the organization throughout their history starting with Ed Kranepool, and it is a new focus we have seen with this organization with them drafting Long Islanders Steven Matz, Justin Dunn, and Anthony Kay.
With the Mets illustrious, and in the case of Bobby Bonilla, infamous hometown players coming home to play for the Mets, in a new feature on Mets Daddy, Mets bloggers have come together to answer the question about who is their favorite hometown Mets players:
I’ve actually come to really admire T.J. Rivera. He’s a guy who has had to work very hard every minute of every day to be relevant, and his journey to-date has really been inspiring. He has a positive, workman-like attitude from which a lot of people can learn from in any realm of business and society. He is fearless and likable; that combined with his New York roots make him easy to root for.
There is a village in Michigan named Brooklyn. I know this because the Michigan International Speedway is there, even though the 2010 census claimed the population of Brooklyn, Mich. was 1,206. I’m from the Brooklyn in New York though. It feels like 25 percent of all professional athletes are from Brooklyn (the one in New York), yet I had to make a brief stop at Google (Mountain View, Calif.) to remember Johnny Franco. Of course. I met him at Gil Hodges Lanes once when I was a youth. There is a picture of us that I am pretty sure I lost over the years because I am an awful person. I did bring it once with me to show some friends in high school. One person thought Franco was my father. I thought it was weird she would think I would just walk into school, as a teenager, to show people a picture of me and my father, and she thought it was weird I would bring in an old picture of me with some baseball player, and we were both right to think these things. (But I was more right.)
Past: Tim Teufel
Present T.J. Rivera
Lee Mazzilli hands down. When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, Maz made his debut in 1976. I was 8 years old. My last name might be Irish, but my mom’s Italian, and so were many of my cousins, so it was pretty cool to have a guy who looked like me (well, sorta) wearing a Mets uniform. I copied his batting stance, wore my sweatbands on my forearms and basically fought every kid who wanted to be Lee Mazzilli when we played wiffle ball.
When he was traded, I was devastated, but when he came back and became a key player for the 1986 Mets, it was a dream come true.
Michael Mayer (MMO & MMN)
Being from Maine, my favorite hometown Met would be Mike Bordick. He played his High School ball and College baseball in Maine before signing with the Oakland A’s in 1986. Few players with Maine ties end up in the big leagues so at the time I was excited that the Mets traded for him in 2000. My dad, brother and I drove down to New York for his first game with the Mets. We got to see him hit a home run in his first at-bat as a Met. Unfortunately, Bordick struggled offensively for the Mets including a bat postseason in the Mets run to the World Series loss to the Yankees. Just a few years after that I met Mike’s dad who was a local umpire and got to know him as player and coach.
Based on localness, I’d have to go with Brooklyn’s own Lee Mazzilli, who I don’t think would have thrived anywhere else. Connecticut HS star Rico Brogna and Al Leiter from NJ round out the tri-state circle for me.
Shoutout to Frank Viola of nearby East Meadow for bringing the LI accent.
And tip of the cap to Ed Kranepool, who showed us the Bronx long before Bobby Bo.
It’s an interesting question, because we’ve got lots of players right now who could qualify as favorites, who have deeply ingrained ties to the Mets besides where they were born. We’ve got lots of players who are not hometown but are home-grown — deGrom, Conforto, Familia, Flores, Reyes (kind of). Travis d’Arnaud has been with a million different teams and was born in California, but he did idolize Mike Piazza growing up. And of course, David Wright grew up a Mets fan because his hometown team was the Norfolk Tides. But much as we all love those guys, they’re not hometown players. There are four hometown guys on our 40-man roster: Matz, Harvey, Frazier, and T.J. Rivera. Frazier hasn’t played a game as a Met yet, and T.J. Rivera, while he’s had his great moments, isn’t a favorite yet. So, it comes down to Matz and Harvey. Matz gets bonus points right away for being from Long Island. If you come from the spiritual home of Mets fandom, and pitch into the eighth inning in your debut while going 3/3 with four RBIs, it’s hard not to become a fan favorite. But nevertheless, I’m going with Matt Harvey. It’s no secret that the Dark Knight hasn’t been a star lately. But his first three seasons in the bigs are enough to make him my clear choice. When Harvey debuted in the summer of 2012, I was away at camp; we were seniors, so we had a TV in our cabin, but we weren’t watching the game. I followed the ESPN Bottom Line that entire night and shouted results to the one other Mets fan in the group each time they came up: “seven strikeouts in three innings…eight through four…ten through five!” I saw those results come in, and literally right in that moment, I felt myself fill with hope, for the first time in a long time, that one day we would be good again. Then, of course, there was 2013 Harvey, who is still the best pitcher I’ve ever seen. I wore my Harvey shirt every day he took the mound that year, and every game, I was convinced, until proven otherwise, that he would throw a perfect game. He got out hopes up a few times, too, even though he could never quite finish it. I was at the game, the night after we’d all learned that Harvey would need Tommy John surgery. “Why does this always happen to us?” the ticket taker asked me. He was genuinely distressed, even angry. “I just don’t get it.” I didn’t have an answer, and I didn’t know then that Harvey would never again pitch as well as we all hoped to see every time out, so I just said “I don’t know,” then I went to my seat and watched us lose 2-1 to the Phillies, which somehow seemed fitting.
Ultimately, the answer for me comes down to Harvey or Leiter as I will remember both of them for their respective Game 5 performances which ultimately fell short. In the end, you knew each was a competitor ready, willing, and able to give whatever they had when they stepped on the mound.
While I believe Leiter should be in the Mets Hall of Fame, and I will always appreciate his 1999 play-in game complete game two hit shut-out, my favorite local Met is Harvey. When he stepped on the mound in 2013, he not only gave the Mets a bona fide ace, he gave us Mets fans hope. He then delivered on that hope by helping pitch that 2015 Mets team to a pennant. If not for Terry Collins, that would have been a World Series title.
Before signing off, I do want to mention Brogna (first autograph) and Bud Anderson (Little League) even if Anderson doesn’t quite count as he was a minor leaguer for the Mets.
Overall, I want to thank the various writers for coming onto the site to participate in what I hope will become a weekly round table. Please return the favor by visiting their sites (link is in the parenthesis next to their name).
- February 15, 2018
- Mets Blogger Round Table
- Al Leiter , Anthony Kay , Bobby Bonilla , David Wright , Ed Glynn , Ed Kranepool , Frank Viola , Gil Hodges , Jacob deGrom , Jeurys Familia , John Franco , Jose Reyes , Justin Dunn , Lee Mazzilli , Michael Conforto , Mike Bordick , MIke Piazza , Rico Brogna , Steven Matz , T.J. Rivera , Todd Frazier , Travis d'Arnaud , Wilmer Flores
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